More than anything in life, you want to feel close to Christ. You seek an education that’s grounded in Christian principles. While cherishing the company of believers, you long to share the faith with those who don’t know Jesus. You want to spread His love.
Enrolling in a theological institution requires careful forethought. To help inform your decision, here are five differences between Bible and Christian colleges.
1. Degree Programs
Both Bible and Christian colleges grant associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. However, Bible colleges mainly offer undergraduate degrees. They may also issue certificates or diplomas in specialized Christian training when a degree isn’t required.
Bible colleges prepare students for Christian ministry after graduation. For this reason, such institutions are often called seminaries. You’ll gain the theology and experience needed to work as a missionary, pastor, religion teacher, evangelist, or church administrator.
Christian universities groom students for secular careers. Academic programs incorporate scriptural truths and are taught from a biblical perspective. Christian colleges typically offer degrees in liberal arts. However, you may be able to major in other subjects, such as business, nursing, and engineering. Ministry may also be among the academic programs offered by a Christian college.
Bible college coursework focuses on academic study of the Bible and ministry-related subjects. Classes cover the Old and New Testaments, church administration, counseling, evangelism, pastoral studies, church growth, missions, and music ministry. At the core of academic study is having a close relationship with God.
It’s important to note that Bible colleges vary in the ways they teach scripture. A given school’s approach may reflect its affiliated denomination. Some theological institutions teach vocational skills along with Bible studies, to better prepare grads for missionary work.
At Christian universities, the curricula are broader. Most schools will offer Bible study, but courses are not solely designed to prepare students for missions. As an example, let’s theorize that you enroll in a degree program for business administration. In addition to Bible classes, you’ll also take courses in economics, accounting, finance, marketing, decision-making, communications, information systems, and human resources.
Although some Bible colleges are accredited, many are not. It’s preferable to attend an accredited school for several reasons. Such an institution has been rigorously evaluated by an overseeing organization. The school must give evidence of quality administration and be committed to continual improvement. It will be subject to unannounced visits and annual review of its financial stability. To remain in good standing, it must uphold high standards established by the accrediting agency.
If you want to apply for a federal grant or loan, this financial assistance is only awarded to accredited schools. Also, employers prefer hiring grads of accredited programs, believing they’re most qualified.
4. Campus and Affiliated Activities
Regarding campus life, there are distinct differences between Bible and Christian schools. Bible colleges tend to have small student bodies, in close-knit relationship. Ministry is the focus of all student activities, including classes, clubs, and volunteer projects. Students must regularly attend worship services. There’s also an emphasis on off-campus ministry experience. To complete their degrees, students must participate in pastoral training. Examples are prison outreaches, inner city youth programs, and service at local churches.
Christian universities are usually large, with less of a family atmosphere. They may mandate daily prayer and weekly chapel attendance. However, spiritual practice is less pervasive than at a Bible college. In fact, this a primary difference between Bible and Christian schools. You will have opportunities for volunteering, group worship, and charity work, but they won’t be a graduation requirement.
5. Behavioral Standards
All schools have behavioral rules for their students. Bible colleges tend to be more stringent that Christian universities. Some seminaries enforce dress codes, curfews, and restricted interaction between women and men. However, both types of institutions shun behavior that’s forbidden in the scriptures. Among the activities prohibited are sex between unmarried people, and using drugs and alcohol.
In what direction is God leading you? Do you feel called to professional ministry or to be a bright light in a secular career? This is what you must discern.
A Bible college will equip you to serve Christ in the context of church administration. Your coursework and campus life will be steeped in spirituality. You’ll also need to adhere to a strong moral code.
At a Christian university, biblical principles will be woven into your coursework, but they won’t be the sole focus. The student body will likely be large, and the rules will be less stringent.
Narrow down your options to accredited schools. Then, visit campuses to get a sense of where you belong. You’ll note first-hand the differences between Bible and Christian colleges. As you seek God’s guidance, His plan for you will emerge. Life is so exciting when you put God first!